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CultureMakers

BY MARK BAUMGARTEN, KATIE CHRISTIAN, RACHEL GALLAHER, TODD HAMM,
BOND HUBERMAN, COREY KAHLER, TONY KAY, SARAH KOENIG, HANNAH LEVIN,
LAUREN LYNCH, HEATHER OLSON, JENNIFER TATE AND JOEY VELTKAMP.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW WAITS

Seattle is lousy with art. It’s overrun with the stuff. Our community of musicians, painters, writers and actors creates a lot, and that flow of creativity far exceeds any magazine or newspaper’s ability to absorb it. To parse it, we do count on our own tastes and gut reactions much of the time, but it is still too much; we must also lean on the people within this community who use their time and talents to lift artists up, helping our most promising artists shine and casting the spotlight on artists who previously toiled in the dark. These are our community’s culture makers, and this is their issue.

So here is City Arts’ version of a power list. These aren’t necessarily the people running the show, but they are the ones who, as far as we can tell, are making the tough decisions about who gets to take the stage at that show. These aren’t all of them, mind you, but a good few that our gut told us deserved a bit of the spotlight too. MARK BAUMGARTEN


50 Summer Robinson
OWNER, PILOT BOOKS
Summer Robinson has done the seemingly impossible: opened a small independent bookstore and kept it alive. Her store, Pilot Books, specializes in independently published novels, poetry collections and comics. In addition to her strategy of selling a product Amazon doesn’t and judiciously keeping expenses low, Robinson has survived because she has opened her doors to the literary community, hosting near-constant readings of underground writers and lending her space to almost any group with a way to celebrate reading or writing. At Pilot, the goal isn’t to sell books, it’s to match readers to writers, especially those that readers never knew existed before stepping inside. CK 

49 Jessica Powers & Whitney Ford-Terry
CO-CURATORS, HEDREEN GALLERY
When Whitney Ford-Terry and Jessica Powers kicked off their new tenure as co-curators for Seattle University’s Hedreen Gallery with a manifesto full of words like “radical experimentation” and “social justice activism,” you knew the times were a-changin’. Ford-Terry and Powers have abandoned institutional stodginess along with object-based art to focus on a yearlong artistic experiment loosely patterned after a British educational model that was designed to foster community. They have activated the social aspect of the gallery through “adventure playgrounds,” musical performances, lunchtime conversations, nature tours and, of course, sleepovers, reminding us all that art can be serious fun. JV


48 Mike Jaworski
BOOKING AGENT, SUNSET TAVERN
Michael Jaworski would humbly laugh off the notion of being a tastemaker, but he's become one of the important people on the ground floor of the local music industry, thanks to his work as a musician, booking agent and record label owner. The Omaha-born singer/guitarist for the Cops and Virgin Islands took over talent booking at the city’s biggest little club, the Sunset Tavern, three years ago, maintaining the club's penchant for securing up-and-coming local and national acts. And Mt. Fuji Records, the label he began as an outlet for his own music, has evolved into a much-buzzed-about outlet for talent thanks to acts like alt-country shining stars the Maldives (whose recent release could become the label's tentpole) and promising newbies Point Juncture, WA. TK 

47 Randall Dunn
PRODUCER
In a way, Randall Dunn began his recording career at the tender age of nine. “I used to make fake radio shows and add overdubs using two different tape recorders,” he laughs, reflecting on his early childhood years in Michigan. After moving to Seattle in 1993, he began cultivating a reputation for being the go-to guy for heavy rock, metal and doom bands like Black Mountain, Lesbian and Sunn O))). Typically working out of Aleph, the home studio he shares with business partner and mastering engineer Mell Dettmer, the thirty-six-year-old has helmed nearly two hundred recordings, including the Cave Singers’ forthcoming debut for Jagjaguwar Records. HL 

46 Abbey Simmons
EDITOR, SOUND ON THE SOUND; PUBLICIST, COLUMBIA CITY THEATER
Historians looking to chronicle the rise of the great Pacific Northwest roots movement of the early teens will be in luck, for they will find all they need at local music blog Sound on the Sound. Started by Josh Lovseth and Abbey Simmons more than four years ago, SotS has grown into the area’s most influential music blog, courting a community of readers who actually show up to the shows that Simmons, in particular, tells them to see, including early shows by the Head and the Heart as well as Drew Grow and the Pastor’s Wives. Now the publicist for the Columbia City Theater – the city’s newest music club, built by members of the community SotS has fostered – Simmons has an even larger stage to work on. MB

45 Jake One
PRODUCER
Racking up production credits for the likes of De La Soul, G-Unit and T.I., to name a few, Seattle’s Jacob Dutton has become one of the most sought-after names in the world of hip-hop. It’s not until you look closer to home, however, that you find some of his finest work, be it on recent projects with D’Black, Choklate and JFK, or in his own canonizing Seattle rap homage, "Home," from his acclaimed White Van Music. Counting a highly anticipated project in the works with town favorite Fatal Lucciauno, he has done more than most in the 206 to bring the spotlight back home, and bring deserving local artists to the forefront. TH


44 Kathy Lindenmayer
MANAGER OF MEMBERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, FRYE ART MUSEUM; FREELANCE DOER
Kathy Lindenmayer’s resume shines with impressive positions at leading arts institutions, but we think she deserves recognition for being the kind of arts consumer and supporter we should all strive to be: the kind that spreads her love. “If she thinks a piece of art or an artist is worth something, she will support the hell out of it with all sincerity,” says Seattle painter Ryan Molenkamp. “And if she thinks it’s crap, well, then it probably is crap.” Lindenmayer’s roots run deep in the Seattle arts community. She’s logged professional hours at Seattle Children’s Theatre, Book-It and Bellevue Arts Museum and most recently served as a curator of a sound art exhibition at Bumbershoot that brought together film, sculpture, visual art, music – and a robot. BH 

43 Stephanie Stebich
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TACOMA ART MUSEUM
Whether she’s presenting the jewelry of Nancy Worden or the iconic artwork of Eric Carle, Stephanie Stebich has been a tireless advocate of the Tacoma Art Museum in the six years she has served as executive director. “She’s a passionate advocate for the museum to become an integrated part of the community,” said Rock Hushka, curator of contemporary and Northwest art at TAM. “She’s really shifted to these transformative works like the sculpture of Leroy, the Big Pup, and she’s making us think of how [the museum] exists on all sorts of levels and in the community.” Stebich has sought to make the museum a home of transformative experiences as well as art, hosting all manner of events from the annual Day of the Dead Festival to high school proms, establishing the museum’s important role in the dialogue of the greater art community. HO

42 Yoko Ott
DIRECTOR, OPEN SATELLITE
Yoko Ott has been a driver of innovation for cultural institutions such as Bumbershoot, the Frye, Hedreen Gallery and, most recently, Bellevue’s Open Satellite. She is known for her intelligent programming, such as last year’s dual-location survey of Japanese video artist Meiro Koizumi. In her heart, however, Ott is a champion of local artists and promises less “importing” and more local residencies at Open Satellite this year. Through creative partnerships with Publication Studios and On the Boards, she is preserving our region’s artistic history while ensuring the Eastside gets its fair share of art for years to come. JV 

41 Nathan Marion
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FREMONT ABBEY ARTS CENTER
When the folks at Church of the Apostles acquired the Fremont Abbey in 2005, the organization entrusted a non-religious nonprofit organization run by Nathan Marion with the task of turning the nine-thousand-square-foot former homeless shelter into an eclectic art venue. Marion quickly brought the historic landmark to life when he launched the Round, a monthly series that brings together poets, musicians and painters to share the stage in an intimate setting, building a community of artists and committed fans who return each month. Now in its fifth year, the series has moved beyond the walls of the Abbey to stages at Bumbershoot and Zootunes and to cities such as Tacoma and Austin, Texas. According to Marion, there is even more in store for 2011. LL


40 Melissa “Meli” Darby
OWNER, REIGNCITY; TALENT BUYER, NECTAR LOUNGE
Seattle’s hip-hop scene wouldn’t be what it is today without “Meli” Darby. Since 2003, her company Obese Productions – now Reign-City – has produced most of the city’s hip-hop shows. “She’s done so much for the hip-hop scene and helped a lot of people,” says musician DJ Swervewon, whose career Darby helped launch. She’s also the talent buyer at Nectar Lounge, working with all genres of music. She’s introduced many bands to Seattle, including Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Little Dragon, Aloe Blacc and the Foreign Exchange. “She is someone to watch – powerful,” said local hip-hop artist Choklate. “There’s not a lot of women in the game she’s in.” SK 

39 Bill & Ruth True
OWNERS, WESTERN BRIDGE
Since opening in 2004, Western Bridge has quickly built an international reputation for its thoughtful exhibitions spotlighting local and international art culled from Bill and Ruth True's collection. The genial patrons' opening receptions are Seattle legend, replete with food, drink and art. Designed by Roy McMakin, the ten-thousand-square-foot space is full of his domestic flourishes, reinforcing the Trues' belief that art is something you live with. Curation is done via collaborative conversations, which is, director Eric Fredericksen says, “a fun, messy way to work.” Don't take it for granted, though: the party ends in spring 2012. JV 

38 Chase Jarvis
CREATOR, BEST CAMERA
The day before Chase Jarvis graduated from college, his grandfather died, leaving behind a box filled with camera equipment. Jarvis, who had studied everything from philosophy to pre-med at San Diego State University, decided it was time to take a European hiatus with his grandfather’s belongings, capturing still-frames of cultural icons. Now a well-established photographer and creator of Seattle 100, a book that showcases images of Seattle’s cultural heroes, Jarvis has created the “Best Camera” iPhone app. The “top 10” app is delivered with an ethos that urges everyone to be an artist and see beauty through a lens no matter what its size. LL

37 Shannon Roach
MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE VERA PROJECT
The Vera Project is the rare all-ages venue that actually lives up to its all-inclusive title, and Shannon Roach, whose knowledge of all-ages venues followed her from Redmond’s Old Firehouse Teen Center in 2005, can take a big chunk of the credit. Since Vera moved to its current digs in Seattle Center three years ago, the number of participants has grown exponentially, topping fifty thousand last year. Her efforts have recently been recognized by the larger arts community, gaining Vera funding from organizations like ArtsFund, Poncho and the National Endowment for the Arts. KC


36 Michael Hebb
CULTURAL OPPORTUNIST
Chef? Entrepreneur? Food provocateur? Although he’s been called all three and more, Michael Hebb is resistant to being defined. The Oregon native arrived in Seattle in 2006 with plans to pursue his true passion: bringing people together by way of food. Using his culinary chops and seemingly endless network of connections, Hebb started One Pot and created the Give Seattle project – through which he raised money for Arts Corp and neighborhood food banks with the help of more than thirty area bands – as well as becoming the cultural ambassador for Caffé Vita. Whether he’s hosting dinner parties around the world, presenting “happenings” for the Night School at the Sorrento Hotel, or booking the artistic talent for the recent Heineken City Arts Fest, Hebb’s primary focus rests on bringing people together at the common table and providing them with opportunities to discuss the ways in which they experience culture. RG 

35 Chris Snell
OWNER, THE CAN CAN
Anyone who has ever experienced a show at the Can Can could tell you that behind all the glitz and glamour is a very creative mind. That mind belongs to Chris Snell, who opened the nightclub five years ago. Although often tagged as burlesque shows, the nightly offerings are better defined as performance art, and Snell makes a point of allowing his artists to grow and develop their talent as they perform. Performers often create unparalleled acts featuring creative blends of modern dance, acrobatics, contortionism, circus and classic dance. Snell is also the man who discovered Vince Mira, aka the Johnny Cash Kid. His next creative venture is FRED, a production facility aimed at fostering creative collaboration and breaking down boundaries between different forms of art. RG 

34 Sarah Nash Gates
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON SCHOOL OF DRAMA
For seventeen years, Sarah Nash Gates has been teaching, designing, problem-solving and fundraising for the University of Washington School of Drama. One of the founding board members of Theatre Puget Sound, Gates has poured her energy into connecting the university theatre program with the professional world, helping to create an honorary advisory board composed of managing and artistic directors from around town. From attending parking regulation meetings on campus to serving as president for both the United States Institute of Technology and the University Resident Theatre Association, Gates is a prominent driving force behind the scenes of the theatre community. HO 

33 Jesse Harris
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NFFTY
Unlike many of his classmates at Ballard High School, Jesse Harris didn’t prepare for college. By the time he was seventeen, Harris had already started his career when he finished his first feature film and gained national recognition as the youngest director to obtain multi-city theatrical release and distribution. Now, at twenty-four, he’s a cofounder of Seattle’s National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), an annual event that has grown into the largest youth film festival in the nation, showcasing works from directors ages twenty-two and younger. Devoted to giving young filmmakers the attention they deserve, Harris has launched a Web site that offers troubleshooting tips and workshops focused on editing and screenwriting. LL

32 Larry Mizell Jr.
HOST, STREET SOUNDS (KEXP); COLUMNIST, THE STRANGER
As a rap artist, Stranger writer and KEXP radio personality, Larry Mizell Jr. has broadened the scope of his influence more with each passing year, and with his appointment to Mayor Mike McGinn’s Seattle Music Commission last year, Mizell now has the opportunity to help shift the city’s infrastructure in artists’ favor. His passion for local hip-hop has helped many an artist find the ear of potential fans, including his championing of once lesser-known, now wildly popular groups like Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction. TH

31 Sean Horton
FOUNDER AND CURATOR, DECIBEL FESTIVAL
Started in 2003 on a credit card and a prayer, the annual Decibel Festival has grown into one of the most important electronic-music festivals on earth, and all because of the tenacity of founder Sean Horton. Only three years ago, rumors swirled about the demise of the festival due to a lack of funding, but Horton bounced back, finding the funds and recalibrating his baby by setting his sights higher than ever before. It worked. This year the festival saw eighteen thousand attendees come through the doors of local clubs, while the coinciding dB Conference (also Horton’s brainchild) saw one thousand could-be electronic superstars file in for workshops, lectures and panels. MB 

30 Chris Porter
PROGRAMMING DIRECTOR, ONE REEL
Chris Porter admits to leading many parallel lives, and there’s no arguing with the evidence. Proof: he’s been booking Bumbershoot since 1997, and the most recent festival marked Porter’s first as programming director (he’s the one to thank for snagging the hundred-plus acts, including the Decemberists, Mary J. Blige and Bob Dylan). Through his position at nonprofit arts organizers One Reel, Porter also has a hand in events like the Rock ’n’ Roll Seattle Marathon and orchestrates the playlist for the Family Fourth fireworks display at Lake Union. Porter also moonlights as a DJ at the Lo-Fi Performance Gallery’s quarterly Studio 66, where he spins danceable ’60s music under the moniker DJ Chrispo, and makes time to run the Boston Sports Fan Group of Seattle for relocated New Englanders. KC


29 Brian McGuigan
MARKETING MANAGER, RICHARD HUGO HOUSE
Brian McGuigan is an odd mix: a clever, genuine writer and an exceptionally focused marketer. As the founder of the Cheap Wine and Poetry series and the marketing manager for Hugo House, he’s helped create original performances mixing poetry, prose and music and introduced Seattle to a huge number of unheard writers. McGuigan constantly scouts for writers to add to his lineup of performers with the aim of blending genres and challenging what the literary scene in Seattle is and what you can love about it. CK 

28 Andy Fife
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SHUNPIKE
Andy Fife is one of those rare people who enjoys the business behind the art as much as the art itself. As executive director of Shunpike, a local nonprofit arts service organization, Fife is able to get his fill of the behind-the-art stuff; the organization focuses on supporting small arts groups such as Century Theater Company and SOIL Gallery by helping them more efficiently use their resources, create innovative plans to get through hard times and continue to grow while producing the highest-quality art possible. RG 

27 Jason Lajeunesse
ENTREPRENEUR
As head of promotion company Sealed with a Kiss Presents and co-owner and co-booker for Capitol Hill nightclub Neumos, Jason Lajeunesse’s signature is all over Seattle’s live-music scene. Lajeunesse spent more than ten years cultivating music industry connections, so big-time bands return to book shows through him, a statement proven by the outstanding lineups he secures as the sole booker for the Capitol Hill Block Party each year. Lajeunesse’s Midas touch in music and business speaks volumes. "Jason is one of the best businessmen in the city," says Seattle music business veteran Barbara Mitchell. HO 

26 Greg Lundgren
ENTREPRENEUR
If you have drunk on First Hill, you have probably put money in Greg Lundgren’s pocket, but in return, the inventive artist and entrepreneur has likely exposed you to some great local artists at his art bar the Hideout or at his recently opened club, Vito’s, where you might find yourself in a booth sitting next to those artists. Lundgren is much more than a bar backer. He also founded Vital 5 Productions, an organization that creates noncommercial, contemporary art, and Lundgren Monuments, a company specializing in glass memorials and headstones. RG


25 Steven Severin
CO-OWNER, NEUMOS
As the man behind Neumos, Moe Bar and Pike Street Fish Fry, Steven Severin has touched the lives of many music-loving, alcohol-guzzling, fish-feasting Seattleites. One of the owners and talent buyers at Neumos, Severin has a lot to say about what music plays at the heart of the city. Whether he’s letting the controversial Mad Rad play when no one else would, putting breakout hip-hop act Shabazz Palaces on the stage for the first time ever or setting up local band the Young Evils with an opening slot for the Vaselines at Heineken City Arts Fest – for which he serves as music director – it’s clear that what makes him great at what he does is his commitment to giving the people what they want, even when they don’t yet know that they want it. JT 

24 Donald Byrd
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, SPECTRUM DANCE THEATER
Despite a multitude of local contemporary and nontraditional dance groups, Seattle is best known for its ballet. Donald Byrd has been trying to change that fact for years. Recruited as the artistic director of Spectrum Dance Theater in 2002, Byrd joined the company with ambitions of raising the skill level of the dancers and creating a repertory that would both challenge and intrigue audiences. As the resident dance company for the Moore Theatre since 2005, and through collaborations with the 5th Avenue Theatre, Northwest Sinfonietta and Music of Remembrance, Spectrum brings the community a form of dance that is less popular (but no less beautiful) than ballet, and exposes fresh audiences to contemporary dance. RG

23 Kate Whoriskey
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, INTIMAN THEATRE
Kate Whoriskey may be new to the Seattle theatre scene, but that isn’t stopping her from making bold moves at the Intiman Theatre. As artistic director, Whoriskey is interested in exploring the relationship between theatre and community, and she hopes to set up programming that will allow patrons to take their involvement beyond the show through pre-show lectures and post-show events. In conjunction with the Intiman’s production of the play Ruined, the theatre held a run at Green Lake and raised an astonishing twenty thousand dollars for women in the Congo. Whoriskey also sees the importance of exposing patrons to various art forms. An exciting five-year partnership was recently announced between Intiman and Olivier Wevers’ fledgling dance company Whim W’Him in which Intiman will provide the dance company with a platform to perform new works at least once a year, and the patrons of both companies can expect to see some form of collaboration in the future. RG

22 Speight Jenkins
GENERAL DIRECTOR, SEATTLE OPERA
Calling Speight Jenkins prestigious would be an understatement. A noted Wagnerian and former critic and journalist, Jenkins has been general director of Seattle Opera since 1983, during which time he has mounted all ten of Richard Wagner’s major works and brought opera to King County schools through the Young Artists Program. With all that, he still greets operagoers at every performance. After nearly three decades, he still brings innovation to the company. The 2010 season included the world premiere of composer Daron Aric Hagen’s Amelia, a work that, it is fair to say, would not exist without Jenkins’ support. KC

21 Teri Hein
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, 826 SEATTLE
Before the Seattle chapter of the nonprofit tutoring and publishing organization 826 National opened, there was Studio 26, a writing center for youth started by Teri Hein. Before Studio 26, there was the Hutch Hospital, where Hein taught for twenty years, and where she met best-selling author Dave Eggers, who eventually worked with Hein to establish a Seattle branch of 826. Since then, Hein has also founded the Youth Advisory Board and inspired Seattle’s literary community to back the mission of 826. A published author herself, the executive director instills a spirit of liveliness and fun in the work of 826 that keeps kids keep coming back. “She brings people together,” Eggers says, “and I think she’s made the Seattle literary community a closer-knit group than ever before.” HO


20 Fidelma McGinn
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARTIST TRUST
When Fidelma McGinn received a phone call informing her of the opportunity to relocate to the Redmond Microsoft campus far from her native home in Ireland, all she knew about the Northwest was stories about Nirvana. She made the move anyway. After a few years, McGinn ditched her corporate job, and in 2005 she joined Artist Trust, a nonprofit supporting artists in various media through grants, professional resources and career training. As the executive director, she has changed how artists are valued in the community by offering them the platforms they need to succeed. She helped launch the Arts Innovator Award as well as an improved resource-filled Web site while serving on the Seattle Arts Commission. LL

19 Chad Queirolo
TALENT BUYER, AEG
When Los Angeles–based entertainment company AEG Live purchased the Showbox Market and Showbox SoDo at the end of 2007, a collective sigh was heard in clubland. The only hope that the two venues – the former a storied mainstay, the latter a promising newcomer – would not lose their connection to the community stemmed from the decision by AEG Live to retain both Jeff Steichen as general manager and Chad Queirolo as talent buyer. While both men have worked hard to keep the clubs relevant, it is Queirolo who has continued to make the Showbox Market an attainable goal for up-and-coming local bands like the Lonely Forest and the Moondoggies, while also allowing it to serve as a stage for important community events, including Sub Pop’s recent Andy Kotowicz memorial show and the City of Music Awards. MB

18 Nancy Guppy
HOST, ART ZONE (SEATTLE CHANNEL, KCTS)
Nancy Guppy understands the power of television. Eleven years after the comedy sketch show Almost Live! went off the air, people around town still recognize her as a former cast member. A passionate art lover who has been performing since the mid-’80s, Guppy now uses her media clout to showcase local artists and performers on Seattle Channel’s weekly show Art Zone. As both host and producer, Guppy brings a variety of artists to each episode, filling the half-hour slot with musicians, painters, thespians and other creative minds. But Art Zone doesn’t just serve as a platform for performance; Guppy broadens the accessibility of art by exposing viewers to the multifaceted talents of the Seattle art scene and encourages dialogue by allowing anyone to submit suggestions of future Art Zone guests. RG

17 John Gilbreath
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EARSHOT JAZZ
John Gilbreath says his to-do list is a block and a half long, and it’s easy to see why. Earshot produces nearly a hundred performances each year, including a monthly concert series at the Seattle Art Museum and the renowned annual Earshot Jazz Festival, which Gilbreath has grown from a three-day to a three-week event. The longtime host for KEXP’s Jazz Theater, he’s also given prominent airtime on KBCS, where his show The Caravan, which showcases world music that has roots in jazz, airs every weekday. He also serves on the board of directors for the Western Jazz Presenters Network and the new Seattle JazzED program and sculpts when he, ahem, carves out enough free time. KC

16 Peter Boal
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET
Peter Boal was already a major name in the dance world when he took the helm as artistic director at Pacific Northwest Ballet in 2005. He studied ballet at the School of American Ballet and went on to dance an illustrious twenty-two-year career at the New York City Ballet. Although he didn’t have much experience as a director, Boal tackled the job with a goal of preserving classical ballet pieces, bringing new works to PNB’s repertory and increasing the accessibility of dance to the public. Among the new works he has brought to Seattle are pieces by both national and international choreographers such as Twyla Tharp, Jerome Robbins and Jiri Kylian. He has also established the Director’s Choice program, in which he strives to present the Northwest with important, often underrepresented works from around the globe. RG

15 Ali Hedrick
BOOKING AGENT, THE BILLIONS CORPORATION
Back in the mid-’90s, when former-Seattleite-turned-super-siren Neko Case was still slinging plates of chicken-fried chicken at Hattie’s Hat in Ballard, then-twenty-three-year old Ali Hedrick was in Chicago, learning the ropes of the tour circuit and booking gigs for the cream of iconic label Touch & Go Records, including Man or Astro-man? and Jesus Lizard. Fifteen years later, Hedrick is living in Seattle and working as one of the top agents at the Billions Corporation, shepherding a Pitchfork-perfect stable of artists around the globe, including the aforementioned Ms. Case, the New Pornographers, the Swell Season, Sufjan Stevens and the Moondoggies. Last September, she scooped up local darlings the Head and the Heart and almost immediately booked their breakthrough gig opening for Vampire Weekend. HL


14 Greg Kucera
OWNER, GREG KUCERA GALLERY
Greg Kucera studied painting, printmaking and art history at UW before realizing his own work just wasn’t cutting it. Feeling more comfortable helping others showcase their work, Kucera started a small gallery in the Pioneer Square district. Thanks to eye-opening exhibits like the group show This Is My Body, which displayed works from artists who used their bodies or body fluids in making their work, Greg Kucera Gallery has grown into a high-profile platform for new artists taking innovative steps. Kucera has encouraged artists to become more visible and make new works, keeping the spirit of the avant-garde alive. LL

13 Megan Jasper
GENERAL MANAGER, SUB POP
Megan Jasper's come a long way since her days as Sub Pop Records' wise-cracking girl Friday. Her tart wit helped (accidentally) to create the pop culture zeitgeist that was grunge via a New York Times interview in the '90s. Fired from the label due to economic hardships and rehired by label head Jonathan Poneman, she eventually rose to the rank of executive vice president. Jasper not only helped with the label's mid-'00s comeback, she has sustained the value of the label’s cultural currency and continues to command respect from the music industry and the city of Seattle as a businesswoman and a tastemaker. TK

12 Rick Simonson
BOOK BUYER AND READING SERIES COPRODUCER, ELLIOTT BAY BOOK COMPANY
Before they were famous, authors David Guterson, Sherman Alexie, Tim Egan and Rebecca Wells, among others, read their early works at the Elliott Bay Book Company and saw them on shelves there thanks to Rick Simonson, who, for twenty-five years now, has been a force in shaping the local literary scene. “Rick’s opinions matter and carry a great deal of value with writers and readers in Seattle and the Northwest,” says local author Urban Waite. “He’s done a great deal for my young career.” Most recently, Simonson has helped promote the work of local author Ryan Boudinot, a writer in residence at Richard Hugo House. “Elliott Bay has been really supportive of me,” he says. “Rick is a champ.” SK

11 Steve Tomkins
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, VILLAGE THEATRE
The era of Rodgers and Hammerstein may be long over, but the legacy of creating new musicals is alive and well at the Village Theatre in Issaquah, where aside from the usual duties of overseeing the theatre’s season, Steve Tomkins undertakes the task of producing two new works each year. The Seattle native, who has a background in acting and choreography, helped put Village Theatre on the national map as a heavy-hitting company that consistently produces new musicals. Several of them have made it all the way to Broadway, picking up two Tony Awards and a Pulitzer. In addition to the Issaquah location, Village Theatre also has an outpost in Everett where each musical is performed for an additional four weeks after its initial run on the Eastside. RG


10 Charlie Rathbun
ARTS PROGRAM DIRECTOR, 4CULTURE
It’s been decades since Charlie Rathbun helped launched the New City Theater and the fabled Fringe Festival in Seattle, but he remains an invaluable collaborator for many Seattle artists without ever taking the stage. Quite simply, he has been showing them the money as the arts program director at 4Culture. He believes wholeheartedly in facilitating artist-centered processes and has been especially successful at accomplishing this in his leadership of the Site-Specific program launched by 4Culture in 2005. Through that initiative, Rathbun has helped commission Keri Healey’s IKEA Cycle in 2005, Lucia Neare’s yearlong Lullaby Moon and Tomiko Jones’ Uncovering the West Tributary in Bel-Red’s Kelsey Creek Basin in 2010. These and many more projects have engaged audiences in unlikely venues, from rural cemeteries to urban parks and other odd spots throughout the thirty-eight cities that make up King County. BH

9 Derrick Cartwright
DIRECTOR, SEATTLE ART MUSEUM
Derrick Cartwright does not assume that just because the museums he runs are the biggest, they are the best. Instead, to him, they have an artistic balance with smaller galleries and spaces. Still learning the landscape of the city after only a year on the job, Cartwright’s influence is slowly beginning to show. He has added an installation of Rineke Dijkstra to the Picasso exhibit and laid the groundwork for a contemporary Brazilian art exhibition. With the museum’s finances stabilizing, Cartwright is relieved that his next goal is to challenge preconceptions of SAM and art in Seattle. CK

8 Jen Graves
ART CRITIC, THE STRANGER
In 2007, Stranger art critic Jen Graves trashed local art group SuttonBeresCuller’s work at the Northwest New Works Festival. This winter, she brings them national exposure with her write-up of their Henry Art Gallery show in Art in America magazine, a publication that has launched careers. That’s the power of the critic. “As the only full-time art critic at a newspaper in town, her voice is extremely important,” says Eric Fredericksen, director of art space Western Bridge. Says Graves, “My job is not to find things, but to distinguish between what’s good and what’s not.” Still, in five years at the paper, she’s spotlighted hundreds of local artists. Her pen lights up galleries, museums, art schools and nonprofits too – as when she wrote up then-young powerhouse gallery Lawrimore Project in 2007, or brought attention to the nonprofit Arts Corps this year. SK


7 David Armstrong
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, 5TH AVENUE THEATRE
Along with New York and Chicago, David Armstrong just knew that Seattle was one of the nation’s great theatre cities. As a freelance director, Armstrong had traveled all over the country before he landed a job at the 5th Avenue Theatre, the 2,130-seat theatre that has boasted season after season of outstanding musicals as well as designation as the largest arts employer in Washington State. Armstrong’s work at the 5th has brought national attention to a theatre filled with local actors producing high-quality work. Of the ten new musicals Armstrong has premiered at the 5th, four have made it to Broadway and two have won Tony Awards. Just last year, he launched the Seattle Celebrates Bernstein Festival, a citywide arts festival honoring Leonard Bernstein. LL

6 David Meinert
ENTREPRENEUR
The founder and owner of the Capitol Hill Block Party, which stretched to three days last year, Dave Meinert also finds time to co-own the artist management company Fuzed Music — which has been largely responsible for the success of Common Market and Blue Scholars — and recently launched the record label Onto Entertainment, which has helped Seattle groups Fences and Hey Marseilles find growing national audiences. Plus, he serves as a member of the Seattle Nightlife and Music Association, where he’s pushing extended service hours for bars. Throw in fatherhood – Meinert’s daughter recently turned one – and ten secret projects currently in the works and you have a man whose slow days put your busy ones to shame. KC

5 Carl Spence
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL GROUP
Originally intending to become a professional musician, Carl Spence switched his focus to film while taking a Japanese cinema course at the University of Washington. After graduation, he landed a job in promotions at the Seattle International Film Festival and worked his way up to his current position as artistic director of the largest film festival in the United States. Spence was the driving force behind the opening of SIFF Cinema at Seattle Center and has spearheaded the development of numerous educational programs and events. His contributions have engaged film lovers in cross-cultural interaction through the silver screen. LL

4 Don Yates
MUSIC DIRECTOR, KEXP
Seattle couldn’t be the City of Music without Don Yates, who has been KEXP’s music director for eighteen years. He filters through hundreds of album and MP3 submissions that stream into the radio station’s headquarters every week. He keeps the “new-music bins” filled, so DJs can work in a healthy rotation of good new music every hour. Stack up all that time spent listening – subtracting some for vacations and power outages – and we can estimate that he’s screened around ninety thousand bands. Sometimes he listens for only a few seconds, but he does try to give every record the time he thinks it deserves. “Even if the album artwork leads me to believe it’s a smooth jazz CD, I still stick it in the CD player to confirm,” says Yates. BH

3 Adam Zacks
SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING, SEATTLE THEATRE GROUP
Since founding the Sasquatch! Music Festival in 2002 on a self-described “hunch,” Adam Zacks has turned the annual Memorial Day weekend shindig into a rite of passage for any Northwest music fan and the unofficial kickoff to the nation’s festival season. He has snagged the first North American show for two of the bigger reunions in the last two years (Jane’s Addiction and Pavement), while also paying close enough attention to what is happening in Seattle to stage big-time festival debuts for more than a handful of local up-and-comers. Zacks’ magical touch has also been employed by the organizers of the No Depression Festival and Sub Pop’s twentieth-anniversary celebration a few years back. He also brings top talent to STG’s stages, which starting this spring will include the Neptune Theatre. MB

2 James Keblas
DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF FILM + MUSIC; INTERIM DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF ARTS AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS
When James Keblas took his position as director of the Seattle Office of Film + Music in 2005, the long-time punk scenester and Vera Project founder was tasked with the challenge of making Seattle better known for two of its most important, but not fully realized, assets: film and music. “If Seattle is a great place to make film and music, my job is to make Seattle a great place to make a living making film and music.” Since taking over his office, he and his team have successfully begun to make a “scene” around that development with, among other moves, starting the monthly industry happy hours and establishing the City of Music Awards. In 2009 he also spearheaded and helped pass the City of Seattle’s Live Music Incentives, which made live music venues exempt from the 5 percent admission tax, and he is currently working to help see through Mayor Mike McGinn’s proposal to move bar closing time to 4 a.m. He has recently been named the interim director of the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, so the entire arts community could soon benefit from his vision. BH

1 You
PERSON READING THIS MAGAZINE
This might seem like a cop-out, but it’s not. You – the person who has paid for the tickets to the shows that David Meinert and David Armstrong have put on, who has bought the books that Rick Simonson and Summer Robinson have put on their shelves, who bought the art hanging on the walls of Open Satellite and Western Bridge – you have been the most powerful force in shaping culture in this city, and you still are, now more than ever. As the Washington State legislature wrestles with a state budget proposal that seeks to virtually eliminate state arts funding and usher in a new era of “personal responsibility,” it is important to remember that one of those responsibilities is to keep our artists funded. So please, take that tax cut and spend it on art – unless, of course, you need to spend it on bread. MB •

See more in the January 2011 issue   →